Monday, August 26, 2013

How to Write an Original Story

With a gazillion authors out there and a gazillion more stories written, some might argue that to write something original is getting harder. So often I’ll dream up a great story idea and think it’s original, only to find out it’s been written before. Sure there might be nothing new under the sun, sure there might be only seven basic plots, but there is a way of writing one of the seven in a new, original way. Below are 8 tips to write an original story.

1. Be confident to write your story, not the story you think others will want to read.

2. Read widely, inside and outside the genre you write in. If you read only within the genre you write, you’ll end up writing the same story that’s already out there.

3. Get out and live a little. Life is a great story generator. Sometimes we get so caught up writing, that we forget to enjoy everything life has to offer. The more we experience, the more we can draw on for our stories.

4. Avoid formula. While it’s good to know what sells, and why some formulas work, if you start ticking boxes, the readers will notice the story lacks soul and originality.

5. Don’t target an audience. This advice might go against the norm, but it’s also a fast way to write something unoriginal. Keep the knowledge of your target audience in the background of your mind and just write the story that’s calling to you. You might discover it’s meant for a different audience than you originally intended.

6. Don’t overthink your story. While some writers can approach storytelling in a highly analytical way, I’d suggest this is not the case for the majority of fiction writers.

7. Research. Find out what other stories similar to yours are out there. If they are too similar, then make changes. Don’t wait until you’ve finished writing.

8. Just write. Push those doubts and excuses aside and just write.

How do you write an original story? Can you think of any other tips? What’s the hardest part of writing something original?

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A big thank you to Crystal Collier for the Shine On Award. You're awesome!


56 comments:

  1. The cat just writes away at his bay and come what may.

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  2. We just have to put our own personalities into it.
    I think not writing to a specific audience is a great tip. Our books can reach well beyond what we expect. (I know mine did.)

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  3. My big thing is reading outside of the genre you write in. I think the wider your base of knowledge, the less likely you'll mimic others in your genre, if only because you have a bigger horizon to wake up to every morning. :))

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  4. Those are great tips. I've got one story marinating that I know I've been overthinking - I'll have to try to relax with it :)

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  5. Excellent points! And I like what Alex said, too :) We're all unique enough that the chances of coming up with some exactly the same as someone else are very slim!

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  6. Excellent tips. Don't listen to anyone who tells you there are rules to writing a good book. Sure, there are grammar rules, but other than that let your imagination fly and write the book you envision.

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  7. I can't think of any other tips but I do like these! Yeah, just write! Love it! Thank you lovely Lynda! Take care
    x

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  8. Wonderful advice, Lyn. One time, I was writing a story and doing research and research and more research and had this great mythological thing going, and realized I was writing Pygmalion. Alas. The researched was stashed for another attempt at something in the future.

    M.L. Swift, Writer

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    1. I've done that before. But no research or writing is wasted. It can always go back into percolation mode ;)

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    2. I never throw anything away. There's always a jewel that can be used for another crown, a rock that can break another window.

      This was a really good post. I came over to see if there was anything new, and I thought I had read it, but re-read it all over again. Repetition. Does wonders.

      M.L. Swift, Writer

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    3. Thanks, Mike. I'm down with flu...again! Sheesh! 2nd time this year! So your words came at a great time. Oh, and I never throw anything away either. :)

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    4. Oh, that sucks...feel better! I had a nasty respiratory infection that took forever to clear. Of course, I didn't get any medicine for it until I'd had it forever. :)

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  9. Like you said, I just write it.

    Good post!

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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  10. to live a little.... ah, give us a recipe for that, sweet sister.....

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    1. Go outside and smell the grass
      try something new
      go somewhere you've never been to before
      climb a tree
      visit me in Oz!

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    2. the grass is dry as hay here :) and filled with cat's poop :), and I'm afraid climbing a tree would leave me limbless and the tree branchless :)
      The OZ visit would be a dreamy experience! If only me had money for the trip :)

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    3. You could write a bestseller, sell the movie rights and you'd be set to come to Oz! Easy peasy!;)

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    4. 'tis true, and my dearest Donna Hay could cook a dinner in my honour in Sydney :)

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  11. Excellent advice as always, thanks for that.

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  12. Just Write. That's the part I forget about sometimes.

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  13. I realized a long time ago I can only write what I want to write.

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  14. All are good pieces of advice, especially the not over analyzing bit.

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  15. Excellent stuff. Reading widely is SO important, as is living. I've gotten scenes and ideas from real life happenings, and it's fun to incorporate those into my novels. And avoiding formula--oh boy. That's the trouble with how-to books...you can end up with a predictable plot and something that lacks soul. Let a ms breathe and come alive! :)

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  16. That's my one thing about target audience writing, it could cause your writing to become stilted.

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  17. Reading widley is a great point...best way to see what's already been done and to stay inspired:) And of course to write!

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  18. Wonderful advice, Lynda! Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  19. Great advice. I don't really know if there's anything to add, except that a writer should trust in his/her abilities and not try to emulate someone else.

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  20. The hardest part for me is making my dialogue sound believable, and making it sound like different people with different personalities are talking.

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  21. It's a fine line to walk, isn't it? Follow all the rules, yet be original.

    I think the difference is in the details, and in the author's voice.

    Great post!

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  22. Hey, you're totally welcome Lynda. You deserve it!

    I think much of my originality comes out of my dreams. I mean, seriously--who's subconscious works the same as mine, or yours for that matter? Anyone who doesn't keep a dream journal an writes should really start. As in, now.

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  23. These are wonderful tips! I think one mistake I make is to try to hard to get creativity to flow. When I relax and live a little, it really does get better. :)

    Congrats on the award!

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  24. Great tips, Lynda. You're right about the target audience. I thought of my book as being women's lit, but men are telling me in no uncertain terms that it isn't "chick lit." Cool.

    I think the best advise is to write the story you want to read, if that makes any sense.

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  25. It's funny that sometimes a writer thinks they're writing a YA but it's actually MG. I think we need a general idea who we are writing for, but the market decides. Jodi Picoult says it irritates her being categorised as 'women's fiction' when 47% of her readers are male. Go figure. Another bit of advice I once read is to write the story you want to read. That is why, on the back burner, I have an Afghanistan story I want to read.

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  26. Such great points... especially the point about not overthinking things. I do that and then get myself and the story into knots. Great advise.

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  27. I always learn more when i read your blog. Thank you Linda, I really have to push aside other things and follow you.

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  28. These are great tips! Reading widely can make all the difference sometimes. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  29. Hopefully we attack every story with this list in mind. Sometimes we just have to let loose and have fun without worrying about who it is for.

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  30. Your lists are always full of win, Lynda. Thank you!

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  31. Great list, Lynda. I have a tendency to overthink, I tend to get too critical while writing my initial drafts. I feel I should let loose and have fun while writing.

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  32. Good post, as always, Lynda. I agree that we shouldn't over think. When I do that, my story turns to sludge and I can't move forward. Also, we should indeed go out and live. More experience makes for richer storytelling.

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  33. Just write may be the most important of these!

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  34. Uh-oh. I'm going against every single one of those points. I'll let you know how it works out. ;-)

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  35. Thanks, Lynda, great tips as usual. I just had a talk with my son about self-doubt, I need to have that same talk with myself. I also need to remember tip #8 (my favorite number) just write.

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  36. Thanks for a great list Lynda. Great advice as usual.

    Nas

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  37. These are good tips! I find most of my inspiration just from living life.

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  38. Nice tips, Lynda. I especially like the reminder "don't target an audience . . , just write the story that's calling to you." I wonder how much writer's block stems from trying to hard to keep the story for a target audience.

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  39. Great tips. I don't believe in formulas or having a very specific audience.

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  40. I've already nailed not over thinking, so I'm on my way ;)

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  41. my main problem is im so particular. so its very hard for me...

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    1. I'm not sure what you mean by particular

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